Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Can You Say Cheeeeeeeese???

You just can't come to Tillamook Country without stopping in at the cheese plant.  After a lovely quiet night with no barking dogs or screaming kids, I got up early so I could beat the crowds.  It worked like a charm!!
Here's an interesting fact ... this entire place, the Tillamook County Creamery, is farmer owned.  With all the big corporations taking over the little family owned farms, this makes my heart happy.  They used to transport milk to the creamery in the old days by horse and wagon.  This was an exceptional setup ... just drive right up to the barn!!
The first sight in the door was the Baby Loaf VW for your picture taking opportunities.  The full version of these have been used to deliver cheese around the country.
They have a self guided tour where you can spy on the workers packaging all kinds of cheese.  This place is a stainless steel mecca of spotless proportions!!
Huge blocks of cheese are cut into more manageable blocks (aged white cheddar here), packaged in black plastic by hand, then shrink wrapped.  
I think this gentleman was being trained to add color and rennet to the milk.   Each small station is a scale, weighing out every single drop.  Once mixed together, they are again weighed before being dumped into the huge vats of milk.  He made a little mistake at that point, having to dump some back ... which made a mess.  Immediately his trainer grabbed some cloths and wiped up every single drop.  Ooops!!
Wouldn't you know, the ice cream tasting station upstairs was closed.  RATS!!  As you head down the back staircase, you are funneled into the cheese tasting area.  The curds weren't squeaky at all ... don't know what happened there, but the rest were delicious, once I finally got up to within arms reach.  Some lady in front of me was too busy taking 89 pictures of her kids tasting cheese and blocked the path for everyone.
The "exit through the gift shop" exists here, except it's the cheese shop.  There is an amazing variety I've never seen before, including lots of smoked and habanero blocks.  The ice cream is delegated to one small corner .. what's up with that??   If you want a taste, you have to follow the switchback lines to the good stuff where you pay!!
My plan was to have a nice Centennial Grilled Cheese sandwich, which they use in a lot of their advertisement now.  Unfortunately it was 10:45 and despite my pleas, the cafe wouldn't make one before 11:00am.  It's not my fault they forced me to eat ice cream for breakfast!  With no one in THAT line, I walked right up and got my rocky road and a taste of salted butterscotch.  That's a new one that is pretty darned good!!
I tried to show restraint and only bought three bricks of cheese so I could make my OWN centennial grilled cheese for lunch.  The cow tipping t-shirt I wanted wasn't available in my size, so I sadly picked out another, along with this nice coffee cup to remind me of the free ice cream I missed out on.  Don't worry, I've got 8 more days to make 8 more attempts at the free stuff and several disguises so they don't kick me out of line.
Back at the rig, I made a WONDERFUL grilled cheese on sourdough bread, accentuated with a side of fritos and of course tomatoes, because I'm on a diet!!  YUM YUM!!!
In the afternoon I took a short drive South to Bear Creek Artichokes.  There's plenty of room for a couple of RV's if you are going North on Hwy 101.  They are family owned and have some of the best fruit and vegetables EVER!!  They even have strawberry or peach shortcake with real whipped cream!  
Along with some veggies, I picked up their garlic artichoke dip and some garlic pine nut pesto.  No wonder there's no man in my life!!  By the way, you can taste everything in the store before you buy.
For dinner, I baked the lasagne Miss Terry made as a going away present for me.  If I said it before, I'll say it again ... Miss Terry is a GREAT chef!!  This lasagne with homemade sauce is the best I've ever eaten.  I even cut it into four pieces so it would last longer!!  It makes me want to try and be a better cook, so you might see my own version of lasagne in the future as I try to duplicate it.  Haha!
Here's her cookbook, available on Amazon in kindle or book version.  You can even find a few recipes at (click on Miss Terry's Kitchen), but buy the book.  Her pizza recipe alone is worth the price!!
Since I've eaten more than I should over the last two days, it's time for a good hike to burn off some of those calories, so today's destination is Cape Meares Lighthouse and hopefully a beach with a little wind!!

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